On Campus in Nashville - Football coaches say defenses typically start spring practice ahead of their offensive counterparts. The adage is proving true at Vanderbilt's spring drills.
The Commodore defense got the upper hand on the offense throughout a limited scrimmage held Saturday morning in Vanderbilt Stadium. The defense forced two turnovers, turning one of them into six points, and held the offense without a touchdown in the session.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson directed the 40-play scrimmage. He acknowledged the defense held an upper hand afterward, as offensive players were performing pushups.
"It's only our fourth practice hitting, so it's pretty much what we expected," Johnson said. "We're doing some different things offensively and we still have to get them down.
"I know both units are working hard and I can see improvement with each practice. We just need to keep working, giving great effort and doing the best we can. As we do that, we'll start seeing results," Johnson added.
The full-contact drills virtually mirrored earlier sessions this spring, with the coaches giving extra attention to red-zone possessions and third-down efficiency. Four quarterbacks - Larry Smith, Jared Funk, Charlie Goro and Jordan Rodgers - got snaps during the scrimmage.
Three plays later, cornerback Casey Hayward returned a deflected Smith pass 35 yards for a touchdown. Defensive tackle Taylor Loftley and linebacker DeAndre Jones also shared a quarterback sack in third-down drills.
The most effective offensive plays were first downs from a 9-yard Smith to Norman pass, and rushes by quarterback Charlie Goro and tailback Kennard Reeves.
Among other highlights from the full-contact drills:
A 14-yard scramble by Rodgers and 10-yard rush by Stacy, who was tackled on a punishing hit by safety Kenny Ladler.
Other Practice Notes
Nearly 100 prospects watched the practice as part of Junior Day activities... David Williams II, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Student Athletics, was among the practice observers... Also watching from the first row of stadium seats was sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Seymour, who underwent a successful shoulder procedure on Thursday. Seymour's rehabilitation is expected to limit him until the summer months... On Friday, Johnson reintroduced gold jerseys to the practice regiment, awarding gold tops to Greenstone and offensive center Joey Bailey for their performance from the most recent session held Tuesday. The Commodores are expected to return to practice on Wednesday... The Black & Gold Scrimmage is scheduled April 10, starting at 10:30 a.m.